Josephine A. Sollano, DrPH, a former pharmaceutical company executive, will discuss new drug development and value to patients and society, and consider such questions as Are successes in drug research and development on the decline? Is the price tag for innovation in drug discovery unsustainable? How do insurance companies decide whether they will cover a new therapy? How do insurance companies assess the comparative values of various therapies for the same condition?
The answer to the challenges faced by the biotech and pharmaceutical industries in developing innovative new products lies in part with reevaluating how the value of drugs is assessed, Sollano maintains.
The valuation of new pharmacological therapies is multi-faceted. One under-appreciated but very important aspect is to assess the value of a drug from the patient and caregiver perspective, she said. Citing Huntington’s disease by way of example, she noted that the current metric for effectiveness, the Six-Minute Walk Test, a measure of mobility, may not be as valuable to patients as, for instance, the ability to use an iPad to communicate needs, which, if enhanced, could improve quality of life and yield increased benefits for the patient, developer and ultimately society.
Another yardstick that could be used to more effectively assess the value of a drug is how it affects the development and progression of a disease, she said. An expensive new therapy for diabetes, for example, might be well worth the price to insurance companies and payors such as Medicare if it helps avoid future diabetes-related complications such as heart disease and limb amputations.
Sollano comes by her expertise from her experience as a health economist and outcomes researcher in academics and in senior positions at three top international pharmaceutical companies. In her most recent role, she was vice president of the Outcomes and Evidence Team at Pfizer, and a member of the company’s Senior Leadership Council. At Pfizer, Sollano led an international team of about 100 researchers responsible for generating evidence on value to facilitate decisions about price, reimbursement and patient access.
She now heads her own consulting firm, Protogenia Life Sciences, which provides strategic consulting services to the biotech and pharmaceutical industries on reimbursement for and access to new therapies.
Prior to entering the pharmaceutical industry, Sollano held leadership roles as research director at the inCHOIR (International Center for Health Outcomes and Innovation Research) Center at Columbia University, executive director of the Institute for Clinical Excellence at New York-Presbyterian Medical Center and associate vice president for health outcomes at Northwell Health, New York State’s largest health care provider.
She holds a doctorate in International Health Policy and Health Economics, as well as a master’s degree in epidemiology from Columbia University School of Public Health. She has also been a trustee of the MDI Biological Laboratory since 2015.
MDI Science Cafés are offered in fulfillment of the institution’s mission to promote scientific literacy and increase public engagement with science. The popular events offer a chance to hear directly from speakers about trends in science. Short presentations delivered in everyday language are followed by lively, informal discussion.
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Thank you to Bar Harbor Bank & Trust and Cross Insurance for sponsoring the MDI Science Café series.